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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Oecologia
Volume (Issue) 187(2)
Page(s) 447 - 457
Title of proceedings Oecologia
DOI 10.1007/s00442-018-4119-1


Lima bean plants (Phaseolus lunatus) exhibit compensatory growth responses to herbivory. Among the various factors that have been identified to affect plant compensatory growth are the extent and type of tissue damage, the herbivore’s feeding mode and the time of damage. Another factor that can greatly impact plant responses to herbivory, but has been largely ignored in previous studies, is the action of parasitoids. In most cases, parasitoids halt or slow down the development of herbivorous hosts, which, can result in decreased leaf damage, thereby affecting plant responses and ultimately plant fitness. Here, we investigated the effects of two koinobiont parasitoids on the amount of leaf damage inflicted by the Southern armyworm Spodoptera latifascia to wild lima bean, and the consequences of this for plant growth and seed production in the field. We specifically tested the hypothesis that the action of parasitoids will reduce plant damage and that this reduction will alter plant growth responses and seed production. Indeed, we found that in the presence of parasitoids plants suffered less damage than plants with only herbivores. As a consequence, compensatory growth was reduced and more and heavier seeds were produced earlier in the season, compared to plants exposed to only herbivores.